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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mehbooba says Omar, media setting J&K on fire

Had we followed your footsteps, the state would have been on fire: Omar
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, June 6: During a spar with the opposition National Conference leader in Legislative Assembly on the controversial proposal of the establishment of Sainik colonies, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday alleged that Omar Abdullah and some newspapers were "setting the state on fire" with inflammatory tweets and sensational reports respectively.

During Question Hour, independent MLA Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid waved a copy of Sunday's 'Kashmir Reader' claiming with the support of a picture that a colony for the soldiers was coming up near Srinagar notwithstanding Chief Minister's assurance that her Government had neither land nor any plan of setting up any Sainik colony in Jammu and Kashmir.

The story carried by Srinagar-based English language newspaper was purportedly based on the content provided by a civil society group espousing the cause of separation from India.

As entire opposition, particularly National Conference and Congress, joined the MLA's clamour seeking an explanation from Chief Minister, Mehbooba rose to shut a many mouths Reiterating that no Sainik Colony was coming up in any part of the state, she said reports springing up in this regard seemed to be "the part of a desperate and sustained campaign by certain quarters to destabilize the situation and put Kashmir on fire again".

“Let it be clear that the Army is not constructing any Sainik Colony in Kashmi", Mehbooba asserted, making it clear that the picture published by the daily was that of the Army's own construction at their land at J&K Light Infantry headquarters. She said that such constructions within the areas under occupation of Army, like the Badami Bagh Cantonment, was a continuous process which was in no way related to the state government.

“Constructions have been going on for decades in the areas which have been allotted to the Army and other security forces for their staff and the families and by playing up the pictures of some residential accommodation in the newspapers, which already exist in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, an attempt is being made to provoke the situation and create trouble, which won’t be allowed,” she said.

“It is highly unfortunate that at a time when the tourism activity has started picking up in Kashmir and the slumped economy is slowly rejuvenating, a sustained campaign has been launched by certain quarters to dish out concocted and inflammatory reports to provoke the situation,” Mehbooba added.

An infuriated Mehbooba alleged Omar Abdullah had stoked a fire with his tweet on May 7th (sic.) while suggesting that non-state subject soldiers were being settled as permanent residents in Sainik Colonies by the State government. Even after her clarification that the government had neither land nor a plan in hand to raise any such settlement, she complained that the leader of opposition and some newspapers were misleading the people and "setting the state on fire" with tweets and unfounded reports.

"He has himself been Chief Minister and attended four meetings of the Rajya Sainik Board in which the decisions to locate land for Sainik Colonies for state subject retired soldiers were taken. However, when the matter came up during our Government, it was communicated to the concerned quarters that there is no land available for the purpose,” Mehbooba said in a scathing attack on Omar.

"Unfortunately despite knowing everything and talking of peace you are setting the state on fire... doing tweet after tweet after tweet on everything". She said that "one, two or three newspapers" were in a race to carry unfounded stories for waving of the opposition members in the House and warned that as a responsible Chief Minister she would not tolerate it.

She urged the media to play a responsible role by verifying the veracity of the reports before publishing the same. “Please investigate whatever comes to you especially on such sensitive issues before putting the same in the public domain,” she urged the media and said if there is even an iota of truth in any such move, go ahead and publish it, “but for God's sake, please don’t lend credence to hearsay.”

Mehbooba said her Government would not allow anybody to put Kashmir on fire and bring miseries to the people. “I am not here for luxuries, I am here to work and bring relief to the people, who have suffered immensely because of turmoil, mis-governance, corruption and nepotism,” she said. “I will not permit anybody to play with the lives of the people and disrupt peace and would continue to work for the welfare of the people for as long as I am here", she asserted.

The opposition benches protested against the Chief Minister’s outburst saying everything was not media created.

Responding to Mehbooba’s charge, Omar said he had never denied being part of the meetings for setting up of Sainik Colony but had never passed any order like the one he had posted on twitter earlier last month.

“If there is any such order issued during my tenure, please bring it forth. If you are here for welfare of the people, I am also here so that people are benefited,” he said. “I think when the Chief Minister is talking about setting the state on fire, she is confusing herself with me. My tenure as Chief Minister is witness.....Had we followed your footsteps, the state would have been on fire,” Omar said.

Omar said he would continue to raise issues of the publuc interest in Assembly as well as in social media. “Whether I stay in the chair for two days or two years, I will not allow anyone to play with the people of the state", Omar said while asserting that he would neither be apologetic for his tweets nor stop the same. He said that he had indeed sought a clarification from the government eith regard to the people to be settled in the Sainik Colonies. "But after their clarification, we did not rake up this issue. If some other member is raking it up, she must address the nember and not direct her attack on us", Omar added.

The spar between the Chief Minister and the former Chief Minister generated a pandemonium for about 20 minutes in the House.

Omar, who has over 14 lakh followers, also posted his reaction on Twitter. "This tweet's dedicated to @mufti_mehbooba who through her ill tempered assembly intervention made me realise how much she hates me tweeting", he tweeted and also sympathised with the media. "Amazing how she attacked the media as well today. The newspapers must've made for uncomfortable reading this morning. Explains the mood!!!"


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